In The Know: Gov. Fallin hopeful ‘backup support from community leaders’ will push through budget fix

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

The State Budget Summit, featuring keynote speaker Vanessa Williamson of the Brookings Institution and a host of key Oklahoma policymakers, is coming up fast! This is the last week to take advantage of the early bird discount for tickets. Ticket prices will increase on January 13th, so click here to get yours now.

Today In The News

Gov. Fallin hopeful ‘backup support from community leaders’ will push through budget fix: Gov. Mary Fallin said Monday that she is hopeful lawmakers can craft a solution to the state’s current budget problem before the start of their next regular session in February. The governor is banking on a coalition of organizations, individuals and businesses to help lawmakers come up with a response to the recurring budget hole the state finds itself in as a result of tax cuts, declining oil prices and an inability to reduce tax incentives designed to generate economic development [Tulsa World]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy].

Three reasons Oklahoma fiscal crisis hasn’t passed: Oklahoma’s fiscal landslide might finally be easing. Thank goodness. State Treasurer Ken Miller reports that in 2017, state revenue increased in comparison to the same months in 2016, 11 of 12 months. A year ago, the state was facing a huge and terrifying decrease in state revenue, caused by a faltering economy and bad fiscal choices by the Oklahoma Legislature. Every major revenue stream in the state was declining [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

School consolidation plan could present taxpayers with math problem: As Oklahoma get closer to the deadline for administrative service consolidation, some education advocates said one financial issue is often overlooked. Any school district that absorbed another would have to assume that district’s bond debt. That would mean residents and businesses in the area would have to pay the increased property tax rate those bond issues require. Residents and school boards already make that decision on their own, but requiring areas to do so could become controversial [Journal Record].

Oklahoma gubernatorial field weighs in on medical marijuana: Oklahoma’s Republican gubernatorial candidates have mostly avoided taking a clear stance on whether the state should legalize medical marijuana, though both Democratic candidates support the policy change. Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday set a June 26 election for the medical marijuana legalization question, the Tulsa World reported [AP]. How does SQ 788 compare to other states’ medical marijuana laws? [OK Policy]

If Voters OK Medical Marijuana, Health Boss Says Another Agency Should Regulate It: On June 26, voters will decide if Oklahoma will become the 30th state to legalize marijuana for medical use. But regulating the new industry could prove difficult. If state question 788 passes, licenses will be required for each stage of marijuana cultivation, including dispensaries, commercial growers, processors, and individual medical marijuana cards [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Why is the Laura Dester Shelter still open? It has kids with no place to go: The youngest child at the Laura Dester Shelter is a nonverbal 6-year-old boy who has autism and can’t resist setting off fire alarms. Staff smile when they speak of him, more endeared than frustrated by his curiosity and developmental disability. The shelter also houses a former runaway who got tired of living on the streets. He will turn 18 this month and needs help transitioning to adulthood [Tulsa World].

Report: Oklahoma Not Doing Enough To Prevent Teen Smoking: A national campaign to prevent tobacco use claims Oklahoma is not doing enough to stop kids from smoking. The criticism is coming from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids inside its latest Broken Promises report. The report says that Oklahoma is spending less than half the recommended amount of money to prevent kids from smoking [News On 6].

Candidates ready to fill auditor’s unenviable post: As candidates gear up for the Oklahoma State Auditor & Inspector race, the office is getting more attention than it has in years. The office has been a focal point during the investigations into the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Over the past few months, it has become clear that health officials spent at least six years mismanaging tens of millions of dollars in state and federal money without being detected [Journal Record].

Lankford Thinks Congress Can Fix DACA Before It Expires: Oklahoma Senator James Lankford thinks Congress can come up with a fix for President Obama’s program known as DACA before President Trump pulls the plug on it in two months. Around 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children are protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Lankford told Fox News this weekend they should be able to stay [Public Radio Tulsa]. Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect young Oklahomans and our economy [OK Policy].

Oklahoma City’s budget proposal calls for more police, firefighters: Oklahoma City’s 2018-19 budget adds 81 police officers and 39 firefighters, making good on a promise to strengthen the ranks in exchange for a ‘yes’ vote on a quarter-cent sales tax increase. It will be several years, though, before all the new positions can be filled. Eight consecutive months of sales tax gains and an optimistic budget outlook — plus voter approval of the sales tax increase — cleared obstacles to adding police officers and firefighters [NewsOK].

Jim Bridenstine is again nominated by Trump to lead NASA: President Donald Trump on Monday renominated U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine to be the next administrator of NASA. Bridenstine, who was first nominated in early September, saw his nomination returned to the president in late December after the Senate failed to act on it. Trump’s decision to renominate was widely expected [NewsOK].

Cherokee Nation to Recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day: The Cherokee Nation next week will mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an official holiday for the first time, months after a federal court ruled that descendants of black slaves, known as freedmen, who were owned by members of the nation have a right to tribal citizenship [AP].

Quote of the Day

“I am hopeful to have backup support from community leaders who are highly engaged and represent all kinds of industries — big, small, urban, rural, Democrat, Republican, independent — to be able to find a path forward so we can end the constant budget crisis we have been experiencing over the last five years now and to fix the budget and quit kicking the can down the road.”

– Gov. Mary Fallin (Source)

Number of the Day


OK’s infant mortality rate per 1,000 births 2013-2015, 9th worst in the nation.

Source: US Dept. of Health & Human Services

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Research Says Juveniles Need Their Own Miranda Rights: Anyone who’s watched a cop show on television in recent decades has a decent understanding — or at least a memory — of the rights accorded to those arrested: the right to an attorney, the right to remain silent and all the other protections given to the accused over the past half-century, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1966 decision in Miranda v. Arizona. But juvenile offenders often don’t have a clear understanding of what those rights entail [Governing].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

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